School bells are ringing around New Mexico, and we’re excited to welcome everyone back to the classroom. We’ve compiled resources and information to ensure the new year is safe, healthy, and filled with opportunities to learn and grow.
Math Is Me!
What is your “math identity”? We want to change the perception among many of our students — and their families — that “math is not for me.” Math is for everyone, and whether you know it or not, you probably use math hundreds of times a day. Making a recipe? Calculating how long it’ll take you to get to an appointment? Budgeting for a home improvement project? All of those activities stretch those math muscles.
We want all students to see themselves as budding mathematicians, so PED is launching the year of Math is Me, along with a series of supports for teachers to help students find their math identities. More info here.
While this school year is designated the Year of Math, improving literacy skills is still important and a strong focus at the PED. Teachers for grades preK through third grade are receiving training on Structured Literacy, which is the science behind how children learn to read. In addition, first graders are screened for dyslexia.
- Learn more about Structured Literacy
- Check out Storytime with Severo, PED’s literacy and humanities director who regularly reads children’s books on YouTube.
- Drop by the east side of Jerry Apodaca Building in Santa Fe (300 Don Gaspar) where the PED is headquartered to leave a book/pick up a book at our Little Lending Library, which was built and installed by over the summer.
Health and Student Supports
Check with your local district, school, or charter school for guidance specific to your school. Remember that everyone ages 6 months and older is eligible for COVID vaccines, which remain the absolute best protection against serious illness. Updated guidance for schools in the COVID Response Toolkit is based on updated guidance from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the current Public Health Order. Changes this year include:
- The statewide requirement for school workers who are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations to test for COVID-19 in schools weekly has been lifted. The decision for when and whether testing will be required is the determination of a local school district or charter school. The CDC suggests that local decision be guided by the local COVID-19 Community Levels.
- The statewide requirement to quarantine for school staff and students who are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and who are exposed to COVID-19 has been lifted. The recommendation of the CDC is that close contacts of a positive case should wear a well-fitting mask and be tested. The decision for when and whether quarantine will be required is the determination of a local school district or charter school and should be based on the local COVID-19 Community Levels.
- The statewide requirement for students and school staff to participate in the Test to Stay Program has been lifted. The decision for when and whether testing will be required is the determination of a local school district or charter school.
- The statewide requirement for mask wearing in schools was lifted last school year and will not be changed for the new school year. Mask requirements remain a determination of a local school district or charter school.
Students who are chronically absent — defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days — can disrupt mastery of reading and math skills and cause students to fall behind and even drop out. Showing up is important! The PED is dedicated to supporting our districts and charter schools in their attendance policies and attendance improvement plans and in providing interventions and strategies. Additionally, our goal is to streamline and standardize reporting so that absenteeism data is accurate and timely.
Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression Hotline
Students, families, and community members can report school-based incidents of racial bias by calling the Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression Hotline, which is open to anyone. The hotline is staffed by a trained PED employee from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; after-hours callers can leave a message.
To report an incident:
School Meals and Nutrition
We know kids learn best when their basic needs are met. Almost three-fourths of NM students (71%) will eat for free at school this school year, thanks to 2020 legislation. Although the federal government reinstated co-pays for reduced-price meals, HB1 eliminated those co-pays in New Mexico. For students who don’t qualify for any meal assistance, the maximum co-pay for a school meal is just 40 cents.